Composer Highlight: Scott Wollschleger by and Play


We have been so thrilled to work with Scott Wollschleger this year on his new piece for us, Violain! He has been an incredible collaborator, and we feel lucky to have such a great and thoughtful new piece to add to our repertoire. We played some preview performances of the piece on our California tour with great success, and after some tweaks and changes made by Scott we are ready for the world premiere performance on the permutations series on Thursday, December 14th at the DiMenna Center at 7:30pm! 


What was your process like when writing 'Violain'?

My writing process is very hands on and I played around with both instruments to find the sounds I wanted to use for this piece. A lot of the sounds are a result of very fast gestures with unusual bowing technique. In some spots I had to video myself and play it back in slow motion to see what I was doing. Once I saw what I was doing I notated the sound/gesture on staff paper and then taped that individual piece of staff paper to my wall. After some time my walls were decorated with various panels of notation. Many of the "panels" were made of self-similar sounds which made it easy to "stitch" together the various panels to create larger sections of the piece. The piece was written almost exclusively using this kind of collage technique.

Is there anything you would like the audience to know about the piece?

The title came about through a typo in the music engraving file name. The piece was going to have the boring title, "Viola and Violin". The typo-title is fitting because a great deal of the music embraces a typo aesthetic. Since the music was written by hand musical typos were common and in many places I ended up letting the mistake stay in the music because it sounded more interesting.  Also by letting some typos be I feel this gives the music an extra layer of joyful Wabi-sabi. 

What have you been listening to on repeat recently?

Galina Ustvolskaya and Phil Niblock. 

Do you have a go-to car snack recommendations for us?

In a desperate moment a few years ago I bought a bag of Combos on a road trip and discovered they're fun to eat while driving. They also last a week after being open and can be left in a hot steamy car for many hours and taste the same. You can't think to much about them while eating them or you'll feel gross. But I buy a bag any time I hit the road. 

Can you tell us something that we don't know (about you, the world, the universe, etc.)?

The world already ended. 


Check out more of Scott's work on his website!

andWeek: Thanksgiving edition by and Play


What a week, am I right?! There was so much to be thankful for, and spending time with family and friends was pretty amazing. Hannah and I took the week off from each other after the intense California trip, but boy did I miss her. I am sure she felt the same, but she hates encouraging my fancies and will never admit it!

I spent the weekend hanging with my dad, his wife Katie, my two sweet brothers, Lucio and Matteo, and their pup, Pippo in DeKalb, IL. Family came into town from all over the place for Thanksgiving dinner and my cousin’s baby shower. Many games were played, Pippo was walked, and pies were consumed.

PIE. If you know me you know that I love pie. If you want to get to know me, offer me pie and I will be yours forever. 


Pippo is a mega goofball with a tiny frame, a big personality, and an assortment of winter accessories.


Downtown DeKalb. Where all of the magic happens.


We are stuffed full of food but enjoying a brisk family pic on the back porch!


Looking forward: I CANNOT wait for the andPlay + David Bird meeting/dinner this coming week. Two of my favorite people to talk big ideas with in one place! Also, the weather is getting cooler and I have plans to whip up a batch of meyer lemon cranberry scones (yum)!


I traveled to Pittsburgh this Thanksgiving to see my family. It was a relaxing few days full of funny conversations, good food, and the constant "click" of my dad's selfie-stick. Here are a few shots from my past week!

This picture was actually taken in New York earlier this week, on my run in Inwood Hill Park. There is a turn in the path where people have discarded their Halloween pumpkins -- including this Cinderella-sized one!


My mom cooked Thanksgiving dinner this year and it was delicious. This was my first Thanksgiving as a meat-eater in a long time, so I enjoyed trying turkey again!


The day after Thanksgiving we took a family walk through Frick Park. It was a beautiful day and a perfect way to walk off that gigantic meal. 


Our walk landed us at an exhibit at The Frick Pittsburgh  where we saw their latest traveling exhibit, "Undressed: A History of Fashion in Underwear." Strange family activity, but actually pretty interesting. I'm glad women don't still wear corsets -- ouch!


My youngest brother has become quite the chef and cooked schezuan beef for our family dinner one night. I was shocked by the schezuan peppercorns that make your mouth go numb -- it was such a strange feeling, but really tasty!


Looking forward: I'm figuring out how to cook some strange vegetables I received in a farmshare this week, including a yokohama squash. Any suggestions?

andWeek: California edition by and Play


My oh my! California is such a beautiful state! We had an incredible time playing five shows and one composer workshop up and down the coast in five cities in six days. It was quite a whirlwind trip, but we got to see so much of the state, see so many friends, explore some of the culinary gifts that California has to offer (they are bountiful), and perform great music for some amazing new crowds!

San Francisco

We landed in San Francisco from NYC and could already feel that the air was brighter and the people were friendlier. We dropped off our bags where we were staying in Burlingame, a close SF suburb, then headed into the city to check out the venue (Center for New Music) and stretch out our legs in the city after all of the traveling. 

We had been awake for quite some time, but this concert definitely got the adrenaline going since we were premiering Tacit  by Ravi Kittappa and performing Violain by Scott Wollschleger for the first time for an audience (it was officially a preview performance since Scott might make some changes before the premiere on December 14th in NYC). On the program we also played Bezier by David Bird and Ghosting [A Shadowy Trace] by Leaha Maria Villareal. This was a Permutations show that we split with Chartreuse, and they played an incredible set with music by Leah Asher, Marcos Balter, Klaus Lang, and Peter Swendsen.

The next morning we woke up early to see a bit of SF before having to leave. Our first stop for coffee, treats, and a half a loaf of sourdough was Tartine Bakery. This place was delicious and just the pick-me-up that we needed to snap us out of our sleepiness. 


We didn't have much time since we had to get to Santa Cruz, but we really wanted to see the piers, get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, and have our first in-the-wild sighting of sea lions! Hannah is in her happy place when weird animals are around, so this was definitely her bag. We also snuck in a couple of local late-morning oysters before hitting the road! yum.


Santa Cruz

The drive to Santa Cruz on Hwy 1 was absolutely beautiful, and the two of us couldn’t get over the California scenery! How do people get anything done living around so much beauty?!


We got to workshop some pieces with UCSC (University of California Santa Cruz) composers for two days, and it was a total blast. The composers were all open to the changes we suggested, full of ideas to try, and just lovely people to work with. 


The composers suggested some places to visit before our second day of workshopping, so we woke up early to get in a couple of adventures. First, we went to the Natural Bridges State Park where we got to see these beautiful natural bridges, groves of eucalyptus trees, and walk along the Monarch Trail where the monarch butterflies were currently resting on their migration south to Mexico. Next, we were off to the wharf to hang with some more of our beloved sea lions and hear their silly 'arf'. Lastly, tacos at Taqueria Los Pericos! Don't pass up on these spots if you ever go through this city--they are not to be missed!


Boulder Creek

We played on the Indexical series run by composer, Andrew C. Smith, and it was such a pleasure. We were playing at a venue that Indexical has worked with in the past called lille æske. We got to perform two sets and present a lot more music, so in addition to Bezier by David Bird, Ghosting [A Shadowy Trace] by Leaha Maria Villareal, Tacit by Ravi Kittappa, and Violain by Scott Wollschleger, we also played DOGGED by Fjóla Evans, Four Koans by Brendan Faegre, à l'unisson X by Eva Maria Houben, and Den intimitet som finns i smultron by Kristofer Svensson.


Boulder Creek is thirty minutes north of Santa Cruz up a mountain, and the drive up was a wee bit scary. There were no lights, a majorly curvy road, and a certain section of the road was down to one lane due to a recent landslide. Once we got there, though, our anxiety from the drive melted away. The venue was picturesque and cozy, and the owners, James and Sarah, were the most welcoming hosts one could imagine. 

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This town was straight out of a movie or tv show filled with burly mountain types, a tiny Sheriff’s office, and a volunteer fire department.


Paso Robles

We arrived in Paso after one of the most life changing drives of all time. We had the burritos that ruined all other burritos for us at El Charrito in Salinas, we stopped at Monterey Bay to see some more sea lions and gaze out at the nutso beautiful landscapes, and then topped it off by driving into Big Sur for as much as we could of Hwy 1 until it closed due to recent fires. This drive was epic, and it will definitely be repeated. Mark my words.

Hannah waxes poetically about El Charrito: "andPlay spends a lot of time thinking about what we are going to eat while traveling; we always want to make sure we find the best things. We ate a lot of great food in California, but our number one experience had to be the burritos at El Charrito in Salinas. Our friend, Andrew Smith, recommended this slightly out-of-the-way place, and we were definitely not disappointed! The homemade flour tortillas were some of the best things we have ever eaten in our lives, and we could not stop dreaming about them for the rest of the trip. Even just writing this is making my mouth water. If you are ever in a 3-hour radius of Salinas, it is worth the drive! Just be prepared to eat the burritos straight out of the bag in the parking lot; there is no dining area and you will not want to wait to taste your first bite!"


Paso has its own beautiful landscape with rolling hills filled with vineyards. We were playing at the Guyomar Wine Cellars for their pick up party where members of their wine club come to taste and pick up wine. 


Ravi Kittappa lives in Paso Robles, so he set andPlay & Chartreuse up in a lovely Aribnb overlooking a vineyard and just a short dirt road away from Guyomar. It was nice to hang and wear stripes with the hilarious and lovely ladies of Chartreuse for an evening of wine, music, and merriment!


The morning mists were the real deal. When we woke up in the morning it looked liked we were living in a cloud!


Los Angeles

After the incredible drive to Paso Robles, the LA drive paled in comparison, but we still got to stop at a roadside booth for some local strawberries and to ogle the 10 for $1 avocados. (No wonder Californians never want to leave...) We managed to get into the city and settled in Culver City where we were staying without hitting any traffic! In LA we stopped at Hannah's favorite ice cream shop Salt & Straw (originally from Portland, OR) for some amazing ice cream. The flavors were out of this world! We met up with some Oberlin friends for coffee and poke before the Permutations show with Chartreuse at Monk Space. Monk Space was definitely a cool venue albeit a bit loud for some of the pieces on the program, but we were thankful to all of the people that helped make it happen.


San Diego

Last stop on this tour and we have managed to go from SF all the way down to San Diego without hitting any of this crazy traffic that everyone was warning us about! I am sure it exists, but this time the traffic gods smiled kindly and spared us the headache of it all. In San Diego we were being hosted by Madison Greenstone (an incredible clarinetist and human) at UCSD, so we got to play in the school's lovely recital hall for old and new friends. At this point we were pretty burn out from playing a show in a new city every day for six days, and we were ready for a bit of a break. 

We managed to squeeze in some ocean time and some fish tacos and sandwiches from El Pescador Fish Market while in San Diego/La Jolla and it was SO worth it. We even caught a glimpse of the notorious seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla (from the This American Life story)!


Until next time, California! You were beautiful, delicious, and so full of love. Thanks for sharing your bounty with us and letting us play some tunes for you!




Composer Highlight: Ravi Kittappa by and Play

We are jazzed to get started with our Fall 2017 tour down the coast of California! The schedule is on our events pages, but here is a little overview of our stops. We will be at the Center for New Music with Chartreuse on 11/8, in Boulder Creek on the Indexical series on 11/10, Paso Robles for a private event at St. Peter of Alcantara Vineyard for the Guyomar Wine Club member party on 11/11, Los Angeles at Monk Space with Chartreuse on 11/12, and finally at UCSD in the Conrad Prebys Music Center Recital Hall on 11/13. 

We received a 2016 CMA Classical Commissioning grant with Ravi Kittappa, and it has been such a fun journey to make this piece a reality. We are really looking forward to premiering this work and getting to play it so many times in a short span of days. It will be interesting to see how the piece grows and changes over the course of the week. Now check out how Ravi tackled our questions for him! 


What was your inspiration for 'Tacit'?

For the last few years I’ve been interested in what I’ve termed "person-specific" music. It’s not music written for a specific person but music that allows the performer to utilize their own proclivities, unique abilities, and specific qualities of their instrument as a core part of performance. In general these pieces have a somewhat open form and method of notation, with durations dictated by the unfurling of various processes. The first piece that I wrote with this in mind was Trajectories, which Hannah graciously performed a little while ago.

I’ve written a few solo works where these notions were explored, but Tacit is the first of these pieces with more than one player. So for the piece to work it is essential that the musicians have a keen understanding of each other’s playing and an capability for “tacit” communication.

What was the collaborative process like with andPlay?

Well, we were in an idyllic location (Avaloch Farms Institute), with plentiful delicious food, fantastic wine, and good company. . . so, it was terrible! No, of course, it was great. My high expectations were surpassed. I love working with people experienced in new music because they’re really unafraid to try anything - andPlay is a stellar example of this! I can remember a somewhat ridiculous moment where I had the duo standing adjacent and bowing each others instruments as well as their own. . . . .needless to say the results weren’t so stellar. But we had to try it to find that out. One thing that I’m particularly happy about the piece is that the duo has really taken it on as their own - not only individually but as the duo. 

What is your pump up music?

Oooooh boy! This changes regularly but at the moment I’ll say . . . . . The Rock*A*Teens - "HWY R" . . . . oh and currently a song called “Health" from a new Australian band called Parsnip. . . .and let’s throw Logical Progression II in there for good measure.

What are some of your top California treats (snacks, meals, wine, etc)?

There are plenty! I suppose I should go through all of your tour stops:

Bay Area: “The Balls” at Southie, Beer at Mikkeler, Dinner at Chez Panisse, Ippuku (an Izakaya in Berkeley), Ethiopian food in Oakland is amazing

Santa Cruz: (haven’t spent much time there but. . .) I’ve had some awesome beer from there, abalone, and Indexical puts on a bunch of awesome shows

Paso Robles: Guyomar Wine, Dinner and cocktails at The Hatch, brunch at Kitchenette, so much more amazing wine. . . .  L’aventure, Linne Calodo, Saxum, Torrin, Golden Triangle, Law, too many to mention. . . .

Los Angeles: Tacos Dorados Camarones at Mariscos Jaliscos (the greatest cheap eat ever!), Cocktails at The Varnish, La Descarga, The Normandie. Kalbi in Koreatown (LA Style)

San Diego: (although I haven’t been there) so many great beers! Fish tacos are just a California thing in general but San Diegans seem to claim ownership

If you had to give up wine or cheese which would you choose?

I would choose to die.


Check out more of Ravi's work on his website.